LinkedIn irritatingly has introduced a new ‘pay us or we’ll purposefully cripple your experience more than before’ scheme. Another step towards the inevitable leaving behind of LinkedIn, other than perhaps for search. How long until they get to the Ecademy-point of no return (which was in 2004, enshittification is not a recent ‘innovation’)?

Events take preparation w.r.t. who you’ll meet as well as ‘after care’ one element of which is to affirm conversations and connections started at the event. Yesterday morning an event around digital ethics committees in the public sector took place, of which I was the instigator though not the organiser. I talked to many new people, taking notes of my conversations, and afterwards did what I usually do: invite those I met to connect on LinkedIn. LinkedIn for a long time has suggested to add a note because it will help the other person know better who is reaching out and why. Just as they used to stress you need to only connect to people you met. I always use that feature because it also conserves the context of a meeting for myself (although I keep those in my notes these days too). The note allows you to be human, passing the Reverse Turing test, or helpfully shows someone up as a cold sales approach. It suggested that this time too:

In the past weeks I noticed that there was a counter attached to that suggestion, ‘you have x personalised invites left’. Yesterday’s event being one where I met more than a few new people, I exceeded the limit of 5 invites for this month (The webarchive shows the limit and premium feature wasn’t mentioned at the end of January).

Paying gets you past that limit towards unlimited.
Out of curiosity I clicked the ‘renew’ button (at some point in the past I used the free trial period to be able to see and download some specific data that LinkedIn had about me, hence ‘renew’).
The following question curiously did not have ‘no interest’ as an option, ‘no’ being folded into ‘other’.

Selecting ‘other’ led to an overview of types of subscriptions, conspicuously not mentioning any prices.

Another click further revealed the lowest price point being 40 Euro’s a month.

40 Euros buys me a month of 1Gb glass fiber internet and television at home. It buys me 7 months of reduced railroad fares in the Netherlands. About a month of reading fiction daily. A year of digital services and tools I actually care about. And the removal of a newly introduced barrier in a deteriorating platform to extract value, aiming to make you pay to allow you to behave like a human being on LinkedIn. I’ll pass up on the ‘opportunity’ offered.

Last weekend I suspended my FB account. During the months of the pandemic I increasingly felt the irritation with FB build up again. Two years ago I deleted my previous Facebook account, after having stopped using it half a year before it. I did it then foremost to delete the existing history, and created a new account. I told myself it was the only way to connect to some people in my personal and professional network. That isn’t false, but it’s also not true in the sense that this is an overwhelming effect. FB is not without use, I’ve been able to keep up with the lives of various people I care about, and have been able to respond to their life events because it’s easy to share for them, and easy for me to respond on my own terms. That is a valuable human connection. Yet, when you’re having fun in a toxic swamp, you might be having fun, but you’re also still in a toxic swamp. I cherish the interaction with people around me, but rather do that in a pleasant environment which FB is most definitely not.

My original intention this weekend was to leave the account suspended for a few weeks to see how that felt and to maybe get back in later. I realised that that is basically to let the skin irritation of the toxic swamp fade away for a few days and then expose myself to a next batch of irritants.

Then today two things happened.

Om Malik wrote about FB’s toxicity as a company, and to vote with your feet. One vote in itself isn’t much. Yet “If you don’t make good use of your vote, you enable those who would … destroy what we value. Facebook is no different. You might be one person with just one account, but you are not powerless. Being a part of Mark Zuckerberg’s algorithmic empire is a choice. If you believe that Facebook is causing long-term damage to our society, and you don’t agree with their values or their approach to doing business, you can choose to leave.” He left FB half a year after me, but still maintained his Instagram and Whatsapp account. He’s ditching that now too, because of FB the company. He’s right. If you think you’re in a toxic swamp, why stay at all within its vicinity?

The second thing was that the mail man came. Bringing a lovely hand written note from Peter. With kind words about our friendship and how our blog writing and adjacent interaction crosses the ocean between us. His card was a great example of having fun outside of the toxic swamp. Not that I think that I should return to sending postcards only, it just points to the spectrum of other channels we have at our fingertips that aren’t FB.

So, like two years ago I deleted my FB account again today, and in 30 days it will be gone. FB is betting I will try to log in within that time. I know I won’t. Because unlike two years ago I have no hold-out reason left to go back into the toxic swamp. On top of that, if I did then I’d have to return here and eat my words 😉

A few days ago I took a look at my LinkedIn data, and realised while writing it that I exported my Facebook data in the fall of 2017 when I first strongly reduced and then later closed and deleted my original October 2006 account (I do keep a new account with limited interaction and much fewer contacts). The Facebook data also has a list of contacts with the date they became a contact.

From that export I therefore created the same data I did for LinkedIn: the number of added contacts per year and its gender balance, and the cumulative number of contacts and its gender balance. This in response to Rick Klau’s description of his ‘do-it-yourself contact management‘ Between 1 October 2006 and 30 October 2017 I added some 650 people on FB, of which 161 women (25%)
Those numbers are even more out of balance than with LinkedIn, although in recent years it improved in much the same way per year as on LinkedIn, though it comes out slightly below LinkedIn for the total. I suspect for Facebook a social aspect is in play more than on LinkedIn: for a larger social distance I suspect it is socially more likely I’d add a male contact. To test that I would need to arrange the contacts by my perceived social distance, which is an interesting experiment for another moment.


cummulative per year


new contacts added per year

How many friends have you made on Facebook? asks William Hertling in his near future SF novel Kill Process. And answers ‘none’, in contrast to forums, blog conversations etc. Seems a pertinent observation.

It seems, from a preview for journalists, that the GDPR changes that Facebook will be making to its privacy controls, and especially the data controls a user has, are rather unimpressive. I had hoped that with the new option to select ranges of your data for download, you would also be able to delete specific ranges of data. This would be a welcome change as current options are only deleting every single data item by hand, or deleting everything by deleting your account. Under the GDPR I had expected more control over data on FB.

It also seems they still keep the design imbalanced, favouring ‘let us do anything’ as the simplest route for users to click through, and presenting other options very low key, and the account deletion option still not directly accessible in your settings.

They may or may not be deemed to have done enough towards implementing GDPR by the data protection authorities in the EU after May 25th, but that’s of little use to anyone now.

So my intention to delete my FB history still means the full deletion of my account. Which will be effective end of this week, when the 14 day grace period ends.